Is an online presence a bad thing for teachers?

I’m always aware of what I put online, I think it’s important to cultivate an online identity, with caution as to what I say and do online.  I’ve just started a new year in my school and I’m teaching E-safety to my students in all year groups.  In our school we teach E-safety in 3 main ways:

  • data online to year 7
  • online perceptions in year 8
  • and the risks of viruses etc. in year 9.

Because of this (and I’m planning on a Sunday morning!) I’ve started to think about the curse of online social media, how others perceive your online presence and that worry’s me sometimes, the curse of what others think of you! (and should I really care?)

I guess this is brought to light by the recent stories of students who have committed suicide from cyber bullying attacks (not that I’m that way inclined) or a number of cases where teachers have been up into harms way and lost their careers by things they have put online, I really try to be careful about what I say (anything you put online can be mis-interpreted or used against you in a court of law ;o)

Like most people (of course) I want to be liked for what i do. I want students to think i teach good lessons, I want teachers to think I make good resources and of course you can’t please everyone, but what happens when students or teachers critisise you online for something you teach or how their GCSE’s have gone or that someone doesn’t like something you have made or put online?

Interviews

In the future, I think about job interviews and applying for promotion. In industry, hiring people is increasingly dominated by going online to see what an online presence is like (working in an IT industry, you need to make sure staff have a good online presence to make sure your company is well represented).

In job interviews for schools there is this idea of a pupil panel, where students from the school council interview you for the job and feedback to the head. Our students are increasingly aware of how to use social media and commenting on teachers, schools etc online, but do not discriminate about the information they put openly online (try typing the name of your school into twitter sometime and see what people say!)

Is it a bad thing?

How long will it be before a job interview will be assessed not just by the job you do and the lesson you teach, but the perception of people on social media? and is this a bad thing?

As mentioned, in industry it would be common practice in industry to cultivate an online persona with a LinkedIn profile and a website and a blog,  which is largely (not wholly, I know most people who read this will have blogs etc.) ignored by the teaching community. Maybe students would benefit from teachers working online and seeing how to be online but in a safe, controlled and positive manner rather than avoiding the curse of online like some plague that threatens to wipe out your teaching career?

Disclaimer:  please let me know if you think any of this is inflammatory as i wouldn’t want my perception to be harmed by this post!

Image from sxc.hu (copyright free image site)

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